Washington, DC — Yesterday, President Trump appointed Vice President Pence to lead the administration’s coronavirus response efforts. Less than 24 hours into his new role, Pence has already demonstrated a dangerous lack of preparedness for this critical position. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the Ebola response within HHS under President Obama, issued the following statement: 

“On day one of leading the administration’s coronavirus response, Vice President Pence has already chosen politics above preparedness. Before attending even one meeting on the ongoing threat of coronavirus, Pence delivered a speech at hyper partisan CPAC, muzzled the experts at CDC and NIH, and placed political loyalists like Larry Kudlow, who claimed without evidence that the virus has been contained, on his task force. The more Trump and his allies continue to play politics instead of acknowledging the severity of the situation at hand, the longer America will remain unprepared and at risk.”

BACKGROUND:

Pence Is Continuing To Downplay The Risk Of The Virus While Exaggerating The Administration’s Preparedness. “At CPAC, Pence emphasizes that only 1 new coronavirus case has been identified in the past 2 weeks. While the risk to the American public remains low, as the president said, we’re ready.” [Aaron Blake Twitter, 2/27/20

Pence Is Taking Control Of All Coronavirus Messaging (And Already Silencing Experts). “The vice president’s first move appeared to be aimed at preventing the kind of contradictory statements from White House officials and top government health officials that have plagued the administration’s response…Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on viruses and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.” [New York Times, 2/27/20

Larry Kudlow Falsely Claimed The Virus Was Contained. “‘We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] air-tight, but it’s pretty close to air-tight,’ Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, said on CNBC’sThe Exchange,’ adding that while the virus was a ‘human tragedy,’ it would not be an ‘economic tragedy.’” [The Hill, 2/25/20]